Wildlife Management

When to Trim Trees

There is very little bad you can say about trees. They are good for birds and wildlife, the environment and people. Some turn awesome shades of red, orange and yellow in the fall and others produce fruits or nuts that deer and other critters can’t resist.

However, over time, even the most strategically placed trees may need trimming. They could be growing a bit too closely together and their branches intertangling. Perhaps a larger one is shading another from sunlight. One of the only real nuisances is when branches begin pulling lights and other exterior fixtures of the tractor. Ever been bushhogging or mowing a hay field with a window open only to have a branch snag it and rip it off? That’s when you know for certain it’s time to trim some trees.

When to Trim

We suggest always trimming during the winter when the trees are dormant. Throughout other times of the year, trees are susceptible to various diseases that can kill them. In the winter these pathogens are inactive and not a risk. Plus, by this time the leaves have fallen, you’re offered a clean visual of the exact branches that need to be cut back.

How to Trim

Start by first cutting the branch about three to four feet out from the tree. If you make the first cut to close to the trunk, the weight of the limb might pull large strips of bark away from the tree, removing the tree’s protection from diseases that can strike once the weather warms. By starting away from the trunk, you’re removing the limb (and its weight) little by little.

Even though blight and other diseases are supposed to be inactive, we always carry a can of black spray paint to coat the cut. The paint will quickly dry and act as a sealant against any harmful bacteria or parasites. For those in the warmer climes of the country, we can’t stress the importance of this last step enough.

Use the Limbs

Another positive part about trimming in the winter is that you now have a pile of firewood, or at least kindling, at your disposal. If it’s a hickory, apple or other fruit-bearing tree, your smoker only needs a good cut of meat. Touch up blinds and tree stands with leaf-retaining limbs such as cedar and other evergreens. Cedar branches are also nice to have inside this time of the year because they smell really nice when you burn them or just place them around the house.

Give your trees an uninterrupted life by following these simple steps. You may notice branches that nag you in the spring, but please, by all means, do not trim them. Exude a little patience and wait until the cold weather arrives. It’ll be worth the wait.


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